Smoldered (The Electric Tunnel #2) by Rachel Blaufeld
Released: October 16, 2014
Genre: Erotic romance
Publisher: Rachel Blaufeld Publishing
Reviewed by Sarah
On the Flap
Asher Peterson is a self-made man, owner of the Electric Tunnel, Sin City’s hottest adult entertainment spot. Brazen and formidable in designer T-shirts and motorcycle boots, he seems unflappable whether he’s making his rounds through the decadent decor of the Tunnel, or whipping through the desert heat on his bike. But inside he is a shattered man, desperate to understand what unconditional love from a woman feels like.
Hiding the effects of his emotionally stunted youth behind a gritty persona, and keeping his fractured soul buried deep while seeking out his baser instincts, Asher is convinced he is man enough to leave the past in the past. The only clue to his broken soul is his deep-seated need to provide safety and a good life for emotionally damaged women within the glamorous walls of his strip club.
Fooling himself that he deserves little in life, Asher keeps his big heart tightly guarded with everyone but Sienna Flower, his friend, business partner, and headliner. Until, that is, the night he runs into his childhood friend, Natalie Parker. While trolling a rival strip club, perusing their offerings for his own personal pleasure, he collides with his past. Coming face-to-face with a woman he only knew as a girl, he’s shaken when he finds the dark-haired beauty in a precarious position. Now all grown up, she’s a hardened soul who reminds him of where he came from, and stirs within him the need to protect yet another woman.
Known as Nat to most everyone, Natalie is a single mom to Quinn. But when she’s under the bright spotlights in a thong, she’s known as Natasha or Nataleigh Dallas. A girl who once had everything going for her, she’s now a jaded stripper with only room for her son in her life, and has erected impenetrable barriers around her heart. The strength of those walls is challenged the night a man she has known since childhood steamrolls his way back into her life, flashing those smoky-gray eyes that have always melted her.
A man she has loved from afar since she was a young girl, one who lights fire to her walls, burning deeper, setting everything ablaze––smoldering her.
Asher and Natalie, two people who are equally tormented by their own demons, set out to rescue each other as part-time lovers in a torrid, desperate workplace affair. Thinking they can remain friends while keeping their hearts at a safe distance, they find themselves at odds when their situation morphs into a messy, tangled mess.
Ripping free of each other proves impossible as they learn that the very web that connects them goes much deeper than they ever expected.
While this is the second book of The Electric Tunnel series, it can be enjoyed as a stand-alone.
Growing up in Vegas, Natalie continues the tradition of the natives by working as a stripper. When she was young, she had the intent to get out of the normal Vegas jobs and go to college. Then she got pregnant and had to make a life for her and her son. The father has never been in the picture so as a single mother, she does whatever it takes to provide for Quinn including being in less than posh night clubs.
As a child Asher never knew his father and his mother abandoned him to turn tricks for her drug money. Now as an adult he lives the high life. He owns the premiere adult entertainment club in Vegas, has tons of money, more women than he knows what to do with, and as a perpetual bachelor this is how he wants it to be.
One night Asher goes to a seedier club to blow off some steam and to find someone who will indulge in the same proclivities he enjoys; while there he runs in to Nat. He had always assumed she had gone to college as planned when they lost touch. In a way, Asher has a bit of a Mother Teresa complex about her. I know it sounds strange with them being in the adult industry but he would prefer her to work for him where she can at least be safe and make more money.
You’ll repeatedly see this book described as gritty and that it is. It’s not a shiny, happy romance, nor would I categorize it as dark and twisted. That’s not to say it doesn’t have its own surprises. For a good chunk of the book, I struggle through reading. With an abundance of flaws and obstinacy, the characters are not very likeable. They are well written and perhaps that’s why they’re a bit callous. Much of the book is the push and pull between Asher and Natalie. He says he wants more, but the second she pushes him away he folds. His alpha male ways are overbearing for a woman who is extremely independent but also trying to hide the secrets of her past. It’s almost like they were never destined to have a normal relationship especially given their livelihood so they have to make their own normal. By the end, I found this love story to be enjoyable and impressive in its own right.
Rating: 3.5 Stars
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I have a large appetite for books with pensive alpha males. I tend to lean towards erotica and contemporary romance. I am completely addicted to my Kindle and feel naked when it’s not with me. If you have any recommendations, feel free to email them. I’m a single-ish woman with two crazy dogs. I also love football and basketball. Living in Oklahoma City, my teams are the Thunder and Sooners.